Learn more about the colts of Road to the Horse.
The Road to the Horse remuda, provided by the Four Sixes Ranch.
On Friday at the Road to the Horse colt-starting challenge, there were great clinics from the legendary contestants, Pat Parelli, Chris Cox and Clinton Anderson. There was great shopping and an incredibly full-to-capacity coliseum. But the buzz was all about the yet-to-be-unveiled stars of the show: the colts themselves, nicely bred American Quarter Horses from the Four Sixes Ranch.
After a “Legends and Stars Extravaganza,” as the crowd was filtering out the doors, the colts came into the arena. They’d been brought in a few times before, before the doors opened to the public, so they could begin acclimating to the environment. It’s a far cry from the big pasture on the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas, that had been their previous stomping ground.
At the AQHA booth, the colts’ pedigrees are displayed on posterboard, and our AQHA reps were peppered with questions about how much handling the colts had had (not much) and if they were for sale (yep). Just a few booth spaces down, the 6666 booth was taking in similar questions.
There, the ranch’s horse division manager Dr. Glenn Blodgett sat down with America’s Horse Daily to talk more about the stars of the show.
“We wanted to bring a nice set of horses that were good, representative samples of everything we’re doing and raising at the ranch,” Dr. Blodgett says. “We tried to bring a variety of sires and a variety of colors. They’re all fairly uniform in size and fairly uniform in conformation.”
He brought 11 horses in case one came off the trailer sick or hurt. (Road to the Horse only requires 10.) Today, the colts will enter the arena for Pat, Chris and Clinton to pick from. Holding to the Road to the Horse tradition, the contestants will then have short round-pen sessions today and tomorrow in which they’ll saddle and ride the colts for the first time. Sunday, they’ll be asked to take the colts through an obstacle course to demonstrate how much trust and education they’ve been able to instill in the horses in such a short time.
So far, these colts — like all of the 200-300 the ranch raises each year — were halter-started while still at their dam’s side. At the end of their halter-training, ranch cowboys then trim the babies’ hooves. During their yearling year, they are caught up another time or two to have their feet trimmed, Dr. Blodgett says. Then, unless they have health issues, they’re untouched until it’s time to start them under saddle. Normally at the 6666, that happens when colts are 2-year-olds. But Road to the Horse prefers to use 3-year-olds, so Dr. Blodgett actually held back about 30 colts from being started last year, giving him a larger pool to choose from.
It’s a group he’s proud of, and he talked about the ranch’s goals in its breeding program:
“Our goal is to produce horses that have good minds and are sensible and responsive,” Dr. Blodgett says. Athletic ability and cow sense are requisites, as is a good, strong conformation.
“We want a good back, a good set of withers We want a good heartgirth, and we like a good sloping shoulder and short cannon bones. We need some muscle behind, some depth back through the stifle. Of course, we want them to be pretty. We want them to look good, too. They’ve got to have good bone, good feet and legs. Hoof quality’s real important with us. We do end up shoeing most of the horses we ride, but you’ve got to have a good foot, one that’ll keep a shoe on.
“We also like a nice-headed horse, with a big eye, because that is a sign of good natural sense in a horse. I can tell you that big, soft eye is important.”
And, finally, the ranch wants a nice-moving horse that’s comfortable to ride.
“Nobody likes to have their teeth jarred out trotting out across the pasture. Boy, a rough-riding horse, at the end of the day, you just feel like you’ve been beat to death. You think you need to go to the chiropractor or the doctor or go get in a hot tub, but an easy-travelling horse makes life a lot better,” Dr. Blodgett says.
A ranch horse who works for a living, of course, also has to be tough. And occasionally, that necessary toughness and stamina equates to horses who aren’t always easy to start under saddle at first. It’s a fine line the ranch has to walk, raising “a horse that will do what we want him to do, but yet not be so challenging from the word ‘go.’ ”
So how will these horses react to the strange sights and sounds of the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, a world away — in more ways than one — from Guthrie, Texas?
“I bet they’ll handle it all right,” Dr. Blodgett says. “Most of the time, horses like this that we deal with, they remember a lot of that stuff that we did to them when they were younger, and they might react a little touchy right at first, but they usually get quiet and settle down. They’ll be pretty responsive after that.”
Here are the pedigrees of the 11 colts who came to Tennessee:
Buck Outfit (sired by Playboys Buck Fever by Freckles Playboy and out of Sixes Outfit by Four Six Hancock)
Sevens Whiskey (sired by Paddys Irish Whiskey by Peppy San Badger and out of Seven S Little Gem by Miss N Command)
Hey Whiskey (sired by Paddys Irish Whiskey and out of Hey Doll Baby by Juno Dat Cash)
Gin For Seven (sired by Seven From Heaven by Playgun and out of Ginnin Woman by Tanquery Gin)
Fat Cat Lad (sired by Sixes Pick by Tanquery Gin and out of Fat Cat Petie by Paseo De Noche)
Badger Fever (sired by Playboys Buck Fever and out of Sable Badger by Tenino Badger)
Sixes Drive Leader (sired by Playin Attraction by Playin Stylish and out of Sixes Playgun by Playgun)
Playboys Style (sired by Playboys Buck Fever and out of Cedar Style by Mr Sun O Lena)
First Buck Fever (sired by Playboys Buck Fever and out of First Cowgirl by Tanquery Gin)
Perfect Performance (sired by Sixes Pick and out of Best Performance by Special Effort)
Fletches Career (sired by Royal Fletch by Jae Bar Fletch and out of Career Model by Eddie Eighty)
Stay tuned to find out which horses are selected by the contestants. Look for more updates on Twitter @americashorse and here on America’s Horse Daily!